Alex Constantine - June 17, 2010
Bloody Sunday Soldiers Like 'Nazi Stormtroopers'
By David McKittrick and Michael McHugh | Independent | June 17, 2010
Fallout from the Saville Report on Bloody Sunday continued yesterday with a former senior British army officer describing the soldiers involved in shootings as "more like Nazi stormtroopers than British paratroopers".
Colonel Richard Kemp, who served seven tours of duty in Northern Ireland and commanded British troops in Afghanistan, said his immediate reaction to the report was that "guilty soldiers should be jailed for a long time".
He went on: "I think that the actions we have heard described are much more like the actions of Nazi stormtroopers than British paratroopers."
Opinions, meanwhile, differed on the question of whether the authorities should attempt to bring prosecutions against paratroopers involved in the Derry shootings following Saville's conclusions that 13 people who were killed had been shot without justification.
Stephen Pollard, lawyer for soldiers, argued they should not be, saying Saville had "cherry-picked" evidence.
Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service said it was investigating whether witnesses committed perjury at the inquiry, in the light of the report finding that some witnesses had given evidence which they knew to be untrue.
Meanwhile, senior Tory party member Norman Tebbit argued yesterday that the victims of the IRA Brighton bombing, in which he and his wife were injured, were as entitled to a public inquiry as those of Bloody Sunday.
Also yesterday, one of the main drivers behind the peace process, Denis Bradley, said the British government has yet to grasp the thorny issue of Northern Ireland's violent past.
He also warned of the burden facing policing if the service has to launch another major investigation into the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings.
British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised after the report exonerated those killed and wounded when soldiers opened fire in Derry.
"There are not going to be a thousand Savilles and I suppose my disappointment around our report is that our local politicians have not debated it, engaged with it, or seen it and the two governments (Belfast and London) have been reluctant to grasp it," he said.
"I think that part of the fallout today is that if you don't grasp Eames/Bradley you have to grasp something and I don't know what that something is and therefore I think our report is very much back on the agenda and if not to us where do you look?"
Among the Eames/Bradley recommendations are a legacy commission to deal with more than 3,000 unresolved murders.
The previous government ruled out a £12,000 (€14,400) payment to all victims and the new administration has said the near-£200m (€240m) cost of Saville was far too much. There are predictions the Tories will not proceed with Eames/Bradley.
Mr Bradley said one of the reasons they had called for a legacy commission was because Saville was always going to find that Bloody Sunday was unjustified. "What I am unclear about is that it may now go to the police, which burdens policing again with what could be another major demand from the past," he added.
He described the prime minister's statement as new and important and praised the role of church leaders. "I do think that people in the Protestant community and the unionist community will say 'well what about us?' and they have a very valid question," he said.
Ivan Cooper, who organised the original march, called for prosecution of senior soldiers and added the bereaved had been vindicated.
- David McKittrick and Michael McHugh
Perjury Charges Sought Against Bloody Sunday Soldiers
'No one threw or threatened to throw a nail or petrol bomb at the soldiers on Bloody Sunday'
Lawyer Michael Mansfield QC, who represented the families of some of the victims of Bloody Sunday, has said that those soldiers who submitted fraudulent accounts of events should be charged with perjury.
The Saville Inquiry found the members of the British Parachute Regiment “knowingly put forward false accounts”. They attempted to justify firing on unarmed civil rights activists.
Mansfield said, “I do think, given the strength and clarity of the conclusions, where invented stories or falsehoods were told, that the Director of Public Prosecutions, either here in Northern Ireland or in London, should consider whether it is so serious - because the rule of law has been flagrantly breached on this occasion by a number of soldiers on a number of UK citizens - that consideration should be given to a prosecution.”
The report found that “Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers. No one threw or threatened to throw a nail or petrol bomb at the soldiers on Bloody Sunday.”
On Wednesday Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen met with the relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday. Members of the McKinney, Duddy, Nash and Young met with the Taoiseach to present him with an original copy of the Saville report. Mickey McKinney’s 27-year-old brother Roy was among those shot dead by British paratroopers.
He said, "Somebody has to be held to account for what happened on Bloody Sunday." The Public Prosecution Services will pass a judgment on whether to prosecute any individuals. Their decision is not expected for some time. Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has also come forward saying that all wrongdoings should be put on public record.
He said, “We can’t expect the truth to be told and then not be prepared to tell it yourself…There’s a requirement from all of the paramilitary organizations to ’fess up and indicate the roles that they played.” He accepted the findings of the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday and hoped that it will bring some closure for the families of its victims. He also said that it was now time for everybody to come clean.